Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

West of the Moon by Margi Preus March 11, 2016

Filed under: ages 10-14,drama,fantasy,Uncategorized — Bethany @ 5:24 pm
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West of the MoonAstri’s father left Norway for America, promising to send for her and her sister as soon as he could. Unfortunately, her aunt and uncle sell her to a nasty goat farmer before she receives even one letter. After months of punishing physical labor and mistreatment, Astri escapes her captor, pausing only long enough to retrieve the mysterious girl also being held captive by the goatman and her younger sister. The strange trio must stay ahead of the goatman and make their way toward America, armed only with a stolen troll treasure, a magical hairbrush, and the hopes of fairy tales and their own imaginations.

This was an interesting story and a refreshing departure from the typical young adult novel. The descriptions of the Norwegian countryside and the ambiguity of the time period added to its fairy tale-like quality. An added bonus came in the author’s note at the end, explaining the story was inspired by a line from her great great grandmother’s diary. Norwegian words and folklore make for an intriguing tale. I would recommend this to teens and adults who like fairy tales and stories with a bit of magic.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Allegiant by Veronica Roth April 27, 2014

AllegiantIn the final book of the Divergent trilogy, Tris and the others are now living in a factionless society. Some people want to return to the factions, others do not. Much violence and unrest exists in their formerly orderly society. When Tris, Four, and others are chosen for a special mission, they learn the shocking truth of how their society came to be and where it will go from here. Chapters are narrated alternately by Tris and Four, and as before, sometimes they agree, sometimes they are at odds with each other. When no one knows who to trust, every decision is life and death.

There were a lot of people unhappy with the ending of the Divergent trilogy. I wasn’t one of them. I was surprised by the ending, but I was pleased that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and devoid of all conflict like the last Twilight book. I also appreciated that while Tris was concerned about Four’s well-being, she also did her own thing and wasn’t shy about disagreeing with him when she thought he was wrong. In the end, Divergent continues to be my favorite of all of the dystopian series I’ve read.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Almost Super by Marion Jensen April 22, 2014

Filed under: ages 9-12,humor — Bethany @ 8:15 pm
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Almost SuperIt’s a leap year, February 29 to be exact. Rafter and Benny Bailey are gathered with their family in the living room. On this day on a leap year, at 4:23 pm, every member of the Bailey family over the age of 12  gets his or her super power. Rafter is hoping for super strength like his grandpa. Benny wants super speed. When the moment finally arrives, they both get their powers. The problem? Their powers are really, really lame. Benny can pop his innie belly button into an outie. Rafter can light a match on any polyester surface. How are they going to help the family fight the villainous Johnson family with powers like that?

This book was super cute and funny. The descriptions of the super powers, the battles of good versus evil, and the humor make it a good recommendation for boys (and girls) in upper elementary or middle school. The underlying themes of friendship and the vulnerability kids feel at that age make it a book adults will like for kids.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Round House by Louise Erdrich July 11, 2013

Round HouseDuring the summer of 1988, a woman is attacked and raped on a reservation in North Dakota. She slips into a deep depression, refusing to leave her bed. Her husband and her son, Joe, try to fix things by searching for her attacker. Thirteen-year-old Joe is forced to grow up quickly that summer. His father, a tribal judge, now treats him like an adult, and Joe, with the help of his friends, tries to find the attacker and serve justice.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Joe’s coming-of-age story was both captivating and heartbreaking. Highly recommended for adults.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Just One Day by Gayle Forman June 13, 2013

Just One DayStraight-A student, Allyson Headley’s parents send her on a European tour as a graduation present. Teen Tours is a whirlwind of museums, cathedrals, picturesque sites, and photo opportunities. Most of the other kids go to bars to take advantage of the lower drinking age, but not Allyson. She watches movies in her hotel room and goes to sleep early. On the last day of the trip, her friend Melanie convinces her to skip out on the evening’s activity to go to an impromptu outdoor Shakespeare performance. That’s when Allyson sees him. After the performance, she does something completely unlike her. She talks to the tall, cute boy from the play. The next day, she runs into him again and is talked into spending just one day with him in Paris. This magical day changes her life forever.

The plot of this book was fairly predictable. Straight-laced female does something daring that changes her life and opens up things she would have never dreamed about before. Allyson really grows as a character and sets her life on a course that makes her happy instead of pleasing her overbearing mother. I would recommend this to older teens and adults who like realistic fiction and travel fiction.

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson May 1, 2013

Hattie Ever AfterAfter leaving Uncle Chester’s homestead in Montana, Hattie is ready to move on. She is given the opportunity to travel to the big city, San Francisco, and decides to go and pursue her dream of being a reporter. Upon arrival, Hattie sets out to find out why her uncle referred to himself as a scoundrel, to find her uncle’s long-lost flame, and to make her way into the newspaper office.  Will she make it on her own? Will Charlie wait for her to follow her dreams? Things are different in the big city and make Hattie realize that she has a lot to learn along the way.

I loved Hattie Big Sky and was excited to learn there was a newly-published sequel. The writing is simplistic and the story is innocent; this is a book I could recommend to upper elementary or homeschool patrons as well as anyone else who is looking for historical fiction. I didn’t like the sequel as much as the original, but the time period (early 20’s) is interesting and Hattie is a likeable character.

3 out of 5 stars

 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan April 23, 2013

Mr PenumbrasClay Jannon is a young, out-of-work web designer in San Francisco. During his job search, he stumbles upon Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. His ability to climb the ladder to reach the large, cryptic books near the ceiling get him a job there. Clay works the overnight shift and only sees a few customers a night, if he’s lucky. The customers are an odd bunch; they work in the middle of the night on a secret project Clay is not allowed to know. After awhile, he decides to work on a project to keep his programming skills sharp. He designs a virtual 3-D model of the store. When he meets a cute girl who happens to be a genius, his 3-D model becomes very sophisticated with the help of equipment at her employer, Google. What they reveal sets in a motion a series of events filled with danger, mystery, and intrigue.

This was a bizarre, interesting story of books, the effects of technology, and secret society. I liked the characters and the mystery kept me reading. I would recommend this to young adults who can appreciate what technology lends to the story.

4 out of 5 stars

 

 
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